tv [untitled] November 18, 2011 4:30am-5:00am PST
until after weeks of hospital stay, or sometimes it never happens. it was heartbreaking to see young wives or children at the bedside in fear of losing their husband or father. it is always painful to see these because i know this could have been presented by a single er or clinic visit. their lives could have been saved if they had access to affordable health care, which i believe supervisor campos' legislation will provide. as a bedside nurse, this will affect so many lives in san francisco. i hope we will have universal health care in the near future, but illness or injury happens every day. it can happen to anyone. we should save one life at a time. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> afternoon, board of
supervisors, president chiu. ♪ they work hard for the health care so hard for it, city so i hope you treat us right we work hard for the money and health care so hard for it, city and i hope you treat 'em right and some have worked for years and they have lots of health care security fears they work hard for the health care so hard for it, city they work hard for the health care so will you please treat them right and when will we see good health care
once again ♪ thanks. supervisor chiu: next speaker. >> i will read mine. jim lazarus, san francisco chamber of commerce. we thank supervisors chiu and cohen for presenting the amendments today. we have attempted to reach out to the labor unions and supervisors since last may to work on alternative to the original proposed language, which would have resulted in a $15 million tax, mostly on small businesses in san francisco, putting many of them either out of business or having to reduce their payrolls to meet a cash mandate that was required by the original legislation. we cannot say that this version today is perfect for every employer, either, because if you are an employer with narrow margins, having to put in effect up to three years of money away
per employee is going to be a hardship for many employers and have an impact on business, but we understand the need to put in better notice. we understand the need to clarify the provisions and make them enforceable. we understand the need to provide a rollover january 1 of every year. we understand the need to create more certainty that benefits will be available that employers can afford, and that is where this debate is falling on deaf ears. the vast majority of employers do what they can do. but either insurance is not available because they're part- timers and are not covered, or they do not have the cash for an actual cash outlay. the accrual system most businesses can live with, and we look forward to working with the board and city departments to implement the amendments that are proposed today.
we thank the supervisors and urge their support for the amendment. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> small business owner. i come to support supervisor chiu's legislation with supervisor cohen's amendment. quite frankly, small business sees 24 months as a long time, but in the interest of trying to find a compromise, the small business community has come together and supported that. we abhor those that are making surcharges and not giving back to their employees. we are as offended as everyone is by those, but we do think this addresses those issues. it is a balance. it provides notification. it provides a 24-month rollover, and we think back -- that this is something that will be good
for the employees' health and keep money in the economy so we can create jobs. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> julie fisher. i live and work in san francisco. i have worked at the same place the last 26 years. i had the good fortune to half affordable health care, and i applaud the efforts that have gone on so far to make this available to more members, working people of the city. you're supposed to today's amendment. i support supervisor campos. i hope everyone will look closely and remember who will benefit here. employers, the few that have not been fair and equitable, should definitely be address, but i want to say more than anything that having health care allows me to do my job well, to be an active part of my community. this is some of the goals for you today. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you.
next speaker. >> i am one of the vice presidents of the labor council. i am also one of the founders and leaders of jobs with justice, which is a coalition of labor unions -- 10 labor unions and 15 community organizations. the label -- labor council and jobs with justice feel that these amendments are worse for the workers than the previous loophole was. these amendments basically will hurt the workers, and that is our key element that we look at. how will it hurt the workers? it will begin to shift workers and employers back into these hra's, which are the cheapest form of health care under our health care security ordinance. so it will be natural for these 20% of these employers who are violating this health care security ordinance -- it is only
a small amount of people who are doing this. for this small amount, they will continue to look for the cheapest way to go forward, and the cheapest way is these health care hra's, and these hra's will lead to not any better health care for the workers who really need them. $4,000 or $5,000 a year is not enough to pay for any kind of very large medical bill. so this money needs to be rolled over. as the worker himself said, any time there is an incentive for the employer to give back the money, they will look for a way to get back the money -- any time there is an incentive for the employer to get back the money. we urge you to look again and work with the supervisors who are interested in closing this loophole. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> i am speaking on behalf of lee's deli, several restaurants
in san francisco. i would like to applaud the intent of cohen chiu's legislation. there is a consumer fraud issue and a contribution issue. i do not think anyone disagrees that a restaurant is charging 4% for healthy sf that it should go to healthy sf or summer. i think you could pass that legislation with or without the contribution, so by all means, past the first period when dealing with a contribution issue, i agree with the intent of supervisor chiu and cohen's legislation. but i appreciate supervisor campos' position here in one word or two words that bothered me was irrevocably designated, which is a term in ira accounts. i feel like using that word is
treading very close. the second part of my problem with this legislation is the alternative provision. if the meat and potatoes of the legislation is ruled unconstitutional, then the alternative provision, which businesses are against -- that bill comes into effect. i feel it is sorted disingenuous for this legislation to say, "look, accept this, but if this is wrong, we will give you something worse." thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon, board of supervisors. thank you for your time. i am a bridge fellow at the asian law caucus. i am on -- here on behalf of the caucus to urge the board to find a different and better solution to close the loophole in the health care security ordinance. we have a workers' rights clinic
for low-income individuals, and we council our folks on a wide range of employment issues. we also provide representation through direct services on wage and hour claims as well as unemployment benefit appeals. a vast majority of the san francisco workers to come to us our modeling will or what is known as lep, limited english proficiency. most work in the restaurants, hotel, retail, construction, transportation industries, and they perform back-breaking labor every day. however, almost all of our workers lack health care, lack health insurance for themselves or for their families. they are constantly struggling just to get the wages that they have earned. a lot of times, what ends up happening is that the idea of health care kind of falls to the wayside. they can only fight so much. for these same workers, the promise of the health care
ordinance has been a critical method of securing some measure of health in -- insurance for these individuals and their families. while the caucus appreciates the good intentions behind the amendment before the board today, we believe that in order to truly address the problems with the local, we have to close it entirely. it is not enough to extend the expiration window for funds placed into expiration accounts. we need to ensure that the health care expenditures required by the ordinance are actually used for employee health care needs. we recently had a worker come into our clinic, and she had incurred a health care expense, and she was trying to find a way to pay. her san francisco employer -- [bell rings] supervisor chiu: thank you very much. next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors.
i am here representing our workers said that represents young and immigrant restaurant workers. we are also a member of the progress of workers alliance, which is nine centers in san francisco that represent different communities and different industries. as you know, we have worked on the issue of wage theft that many of you -- not many, all of you took the pledge to end wage that -- theft. this is also a form of that. these hard-learned dollars are not going to cover the medical cost for medical needs that they are entitled to. as a worker center, day in and day out, we see cases where workers are coming in where they do not have access to these hra's. employers have the incentive to make it difficult for them to not access the accounts or not use the funds to cover their accounts. at the end of the day, we have to think to what lengths are we going to waving workers' --
waiving workers' health and well-being. there are a few businesses that do their fair share and other businesses are not following in their steps, so we are here to oppose this amendment today. thanks. >> good afternoon. i am with the chinese progressive association. we are proud members of progressive workers alliance as well as jobs with justice. i am here to urge you to oppose the amendment being proposed by supervisor chiu and cohen to the health care security ordinance. we know that right now, there is a debate going on in this country about the 99% and the 1%. there is a debate going on about the future of our economy and the economy needs to serve and how the inequality perpetuated by the 1% is trickling down to crush and keep down the rest of us including small business
owners and workers. i wanted to see a show of hands of supervisors -- who here would like to have an hra as your primary form of health care. anyone in the audience who would like to have an arra -- an hra? you should not ask that of your lowest paid workers who are already struggling to pay their rent and survive and raise their families in this city. this is a time we should be coming together as the 99% to fight against the 1% and call for a fare economy that addresses our real economic needs and the needs of all families, not proposing and passing false solutions that fail to address the real issues and even worse, hurt workers and take us backwards from where we are right now. the member i told you the story about last time i spoke to you on this issue had appendicitis, did not even know about her health care benefits, and had to
rely on charity care for her interest -- this did not solve her problem. in fact, it gives her employer an incentive to fire her because she has been there and will have two years accumulated, and he could just recover the money after three months if she does not spend it. we want to close the loophole in a real way so that every worker is allowed the same rights and every employer place by the same rules. we can fight together, the 99% against the 1%. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon. i owned a small business, restaurants, in san francisco. i am year to thank supervisors cohen -- supervisor cohen and president chiu for their amendment that i think are a good compromise of where we stand on this issue. i would like to stick up with the previous speaker left off.
i do not have hra and i would not want to have it, but the insurance companies put a limit of 20 hours a week providing insurance. that is the threshold. anyone that works less than 20 hours a week -- and there are many -- do not have any way to be injured. i do not charge for the health initiative, and i provide health insurance. last year, i had a serious accident. i am still paying off many of the bills that my interest did not pay, so why are we putting small businesses in the same category of some big corporations, big brother that is just out to get -- all the restaurant owners i know, and i can name a lot -- they care for their people. they do the best they can.
they work their ass off and i resent the characterization that small-business owners are out there to take advantage of anyone. we are not. i support supervisor cohen and president chiu's amendment. they are okay, i guess. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon. i am the general manager of escape to new york pizza. i am here to support supervisors chiu and cohen's amendment. i look forward to a manageable and survival solution to the loophole. we have been going up around and around, and some of the solutions have been unsustainable for my business, and some have been unacceptable for the employees. i am happy to hear and see something we can live with. no solution presented prevents or mandates that an employee in
san francisco joined healthy san francisco. they all can do it regardless of what might benefit is. i encourage any of my employees that i cannot give full-time health insurance to to join healthy san francisco. they can use their hra funds for that or not. that is their choice. i cannot make it happen. there is a perpetual conversation about a level playing field and the intent of the law. original intent was to provide health care access. i am in full favor of that. i do whatever i can. an unending pot of money that might pay for part of an appendectomy will not hurt as much -- will not help as much as an encouragement for employees that need it to use those funds to join healthy san francisco or get a policy with kaiser on their own. the level playing field is a myth. healthy san francisco covers 4000 out of 50,000 employees.
let's just get a rational compromise that all businesses can manage and survive. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am the executive director for the golden gate restaurant association. i do want to remind the board that the folks that we are talking about, 30% of which that are using these -- 30% of the businesses that are covered under the hcso use health reimbursement account in some fashion. that is about 900 or 800 businesses. 60% of those businesses are small businesses. it is not wells fargo. it is small businesses on an economic level. while we do not agree with all of the amendments in the current
legislation, we understand that this is a process. you do not get everything you want. what you try to achieve is a principal compromise. that is what this does. it addresses key issues that have been identified. it addresses the do not get sick in january problem that supervisor campos identified. it identifies the issue of notice to the employees. quarterly notices in writing of how they can use their benefits, what the benefit covers. that is going to be significant in raising the utilization rate. absolutely employers should be telling their employees what that benefit is. it also addresses the issue of consumer pride. if an entity is telling people that they are charging a fee for health care, they need to spend the money on health care. i want to clarify. it was the golden gate
restaurant association that litigated against the city. that is not our intent. we do not want to litigate. we want to find a principal solution that solves the problem and gets access for people but does not put people out of work. i think we have that now. thank you. >> i am the executive director of the san francisco labor council. in 2005, just a few months after i was elected to this job, i had the privilege of working with many of the people who are part of our coalition right now. we ended up turning the tide and putting some legacy legislation to gather in san francisco. the security act was passed 11-0 by the board of supervisors for it is one of the legacy items we have in san francisco and. it is very sad that i am standing here today. i feel like we are taking a step
backwards. the introduction of the new legislation and ordinances by supervisor cohen are taking us in a route backwards. the debate that we had in 2005 and was what are we going to do to make sure that those few people who are starting to lose their health insurance, what can we do to stop that? at that time, the debate was that at $1.37 per hour, that was enough to get you health care to. still at the subsidy of the city and county of san francisco. but it got you to help beat san francisco. but there was never a discussion about whether or not there are going to call back and get their money back words. this is not a compromise. this is a step backwards to carry it the coalition, the council is urging you to vote no on this legislation carried this is the first time i have seen the city and county going
backwards. we are going to go backwards on health care under the watch of this board of supervisors. i am urging you to vote no. president chiu: next speaker of. >> amoeba music is in trouble as far as making money anymore. the economy has screwed us. there are new ways of getting used to deliver to the people. yet we hang on. we have 95 employees. we have blue shield that we offer. it costs us $300,000 per year out of our pockets that we pay for our employees for blue shield. if we do not pass this amendment, it is going to cost us another $150,000 per year, as we calculate.
out of our pocket and we have no chance of getting any of it back. that is probably going to be the death knell for our business. what is going to happen? instead of improving the workers' conditions, you're going to have 95 employees who are out of work. these are employees who are not easily hirable, either. these are people who do not have college degrees, a lot of them. that are not good in the labor force, but they are good at ameba music. we would appreciate it very much if you would consider the amendment. thank you. president chiu: next speaker. if there are any other speakers that wish to talk on this topic, if you would please line up right now. thank you.
>> i am with the chamber of commerce. it is good to follow the last speaker, because i want to thank supervisor chu and supervisor cohen and the majority of you who realize that this is about jobs and not losing any more jobs in san francisco than we have to. we are the have 45,000 unemployed san franciscans. with all due respect to my colleague about -- my colleague with the labor council, this is all about compromise. if you look at our election one week ago and the passage of comprehensive handsome -- comprehensive pension reform, where he and i work cochairs of the committee, we see that compromise in this city works. we pass, for the first time in the united states, comprehensive pension reform because there was
a compromise measure. we must be on the right track today, because no one is completely happy with the solution. business is not completely happy about two years in worth of money set aside, labor is not completely happy that is not more than that. we fixed the primary problems. we kicked the general problem, the notification and education problem, the mislabeling of menus that has been pointed out. we have fixed the main issues and protected jobs. thank you. >> elizabeth alexander a bunch of our health care people were supposed to be here today but had emergency bargaining related issues they had to deal with. they got called in on overtime so they are here in spirit.
we are against these changes and supportive of the original legislation because we believe that health care still needs to be healthy. it is not ok for us in that the loophole gets closed and has a potential to worst effect than the current legislation. that is because the current legislation -- there is a loophole. this clarification does a lot of harm. it does not address the issue, which is the integrity of providing health care for our workers. we always hear the dichotomy of health care and jobs. this is always being hung over our head when we talk about workers' rights. whether it is minimum-wage, health care, tax incentives. it is a false dichotomy. we cannot incentivize the
denial, the cap on health care. although we are promising in the legislation that there will not be the nile -- denial, it is hard to enforce those rules. everyone who works under contract knows that the more rules they are -- more rules there are, the harder they are to enforce. the real rules for this is that there is no health care caps. for the public service workers, please continue -- please support the original supervisor campos legislation. president chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> president chiu and board of supervisors, thank you for your hard work on this effort. i am an operations manager with home sweet home care. a home care agency in san
francisco. we work on very tight margins in our business. i make it a personal priority to take care of all of our transient, part-time, short- term home care workers. as an attorney and the cpa, i want to make sure we do everything that we need to do under the law to take care of our care givers as our employees, not independent contractors. we are in favor of these amendments because we are not interested in escaping what the requirements are and these loopholes. that is wrong and immoral. we do want the board to consider a balance here. we know that one last worker who has health care insurance is a burden on san francisco in general. at the same time, if one less employee or person is employed because the employer has no funds or profit to keep that pers